No more uranium through the Port

Exports of dangerous "yellowcake" uranium through Port Adelaide are about to increase seven- fold, putting the health and wellbeing of local residents at risk. 

About 5000 tonnes of uranium oxide is currently shipped out of Port Adelaide per year. The Olympic Dam expansion and the development of new West Australian mines is set to increase exports to about 37,000 tonnes a year.

The nuclear lobby and mining companies claim exposure to uranium poses no threat to human health.  However, independent studies show that normal functioning of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, and other systems can be negatively affected by uranium exposure.

Further, studies on human DNA have shown an increased occurence of cancers especially lung cancer, after exposure to uranium.

It's because of such risks that Fremantle Council has banned uranium exports through its port. Their policy states:

"No uranium, nuclear waste nor other material connected with the nuclear power industry may be stored or transported in or through the municipality."

The pro-mining Coalition government in WA has told the Australian that it would not consider shipping the uranium out of its ports "because they are either surrounded by residential areas or do not have container facilities".

However, the Barnett government seems happy to allow uranium mining as long as the dangerous substance is transported to South Australia and shipped out of Port Adelaide!

Accidents happen

The recent spill of uranium and copper concentrate into the Edith River in the Northern Territory following a train derailment, reveals the chance of an accident is a real possibility.

More concering, an exemption from the SA government’s SafeWork department allowed the toxic material to be transported from Oz Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine in wagons covered only by tarpaulins rather than in the sealed containers normally required. 

If this is any indication of the potential risks and poor safety standards, an increase of uranium exports through Port Adelaide must be stopped as they have been in Western Australia.

International impact

In March 2011 the Daiichi nuclear reactor in Fukushima was hit by a massive earthquake and Tsunami, sending it into meltdown. The fallout from this event is likely to be felt in Japan for many years with radiation from the disaster being detected up to 50kms from the plant. 

An accident in South Australia is unlikely to be as serious but the health risks exist.

Companies involved in the mining of uranium have the lucrative Indian market in their sights after the Federal Government scrapped its policy preventing the shipping of uranium to the world's second largest country.

The chief of India's nuclear program has applauded the federal Labor government for lifting restrictions on uranium sales to India saying that it would free up its current uranium stocks for use in its nuclear weapons program.

If you are concerned that Australian uranium could be used in nuclear weapons manufacturing and unsafe reactors send the letter of opposition below to local, state and federal politicians now!

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Letter Preview

Dear Member of Parliament/Local Council,

I am writing to voice my serious concerns at the proposal to increase uranium exports out of Port Adelaide in the near future as new uranium mines in South Australia and Western Australia commence production.

Reports suggest exports will rise from the present 5,000 tonnes per annum to over 37,000 tonnes.

The Port area already shoulders a tremendous burden of environmental risk with the handling of hazardous cargoes and the operation of polluting industries in the district.

The health indicators of local residents are already considerably worse than the state average and steps need to be taken to reverse the current parlous situation.

The Fremantle City Council in Western Australia has banned uranium exports through its port because it threatens the wellbeing of local residents. Their policy states:

"No uranium, nuclear waste nor other material connected with the nuclear power industry may be stored or transported in or through the municipality."

I ask that the same respect for community health and wellbeing is given to the residents of Port Adelaide.

I am also concerned about the export of uranium to destinations where it poses a threat to the wellbeing of local communities.

It has been revealed that Australian uranium was used in the reactors of the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Managers of India's nuclear weapons program have expressed satisfaction that the ALP's national conference has cleared the way for uranium exports to that country. This will further destabilise our region and undermine prospects for peace in the future.

I am further concerned that proposals for uranium mining and nuclear waste storage involve overriding the objections of Aboriginal people living in the affected areas.

For the sake of workers involved, I urge you and your colleagues to support more sustainable, less hazardous industries outside the nuclear cycle.

Finally, I ask you to publicly commit to policy that prevents the increase of uranium exports out of Port Adelaide.